Born in the Yukon Territory, back when cars had wooden wheels, artist Gordon Sellen currently resides in Collingwood Ontario Canada. Painter, sculptor, glass artist, and retired Award Winning Pastry Chef, Gordon’s exploration of art and many of it’s mediums has been a lifelong pursuit. Before painting became his focus, Gordon spent many years as a glass blower. He created thousands of pieces of hand blown art glass. Also a very accomplished stained glass artist, Gordon created windows for many churches, public and private commissions. Gordon’s painting process can best be described as madly off in all directions. However after painting pretty much nonstop for 10 year’s there seem’s to be a pattern and his paintings can be grouped into one of many an on going series. Gordon finds inspiration around him everywhere and although Abstract Expressionism is a favourite, he has explored landscapes, figurative work and even Pop Art.
What’s your artistic background?
I was born in the Yukon and my father was in the Canadian Air Force. We moved every year or two for as long as I can remember. France one week and Germany the next. Art was everywhere and I was exposed to so much as a child it really had a positive impact on me. As we are the sum total of our experiences, art has always predominated my life.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I think the biggest part of success is just showing up. No need to wait for some divine inspiration, just get yourself into the studio and get to work. Inspiration will only find you while you’re working. Also an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail because fail you will.
What role does the artist have in society?
Art is thankfully all around us and greatly improves the human condition. Art and creativity are the higher forms of human expression. An artists role is to observe, process and create.
What art do you most identify with?
I am all over the map here. Painting is my focus however I am interested in all of the arts. It could be anything from painting, music, ballet or sculpture.
What themes do you pursue?
At the moment my focus has been on local landscapes. I live in a beautiful part of Canada and there is no shortage of inspiring vistas to paint.
What’s your favourite artwork?
Favourite Artwork? Impossible to say. Perhaps the 20 paintings I saw this morning on Instagram. Although I saw some Van Gogh, Paul Peel, Chuck Close, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Picasso, Cezanne paintings up close and personal that I was impressed with. The list is too long.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Inspiration always comes while working. Although a trip to any museum or Art Gallery will usually spark a thought or two.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked as a Professional Pastry Chef in hotels mostly. The chef gig always helped pay the bills. I was happy to retire after 37 years of service.
For me creating an artwork is very satisfying. I think art chose me, I really had no say in the matter. I would hope that the last painting is my best work. Not always the case unfortunately sometimes it goes in the bin.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
Learning all the rules and then having the courage to break them and start creating your own reality.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I first started learning pottery in the early sixties which led me to work as a Glassblower, Stained Glass Artist, Pastry Chef, Tattoo Artist and finally painter. I think the biggest WOW factor came with glassblowing. People have plenty of questions and wide eyes during the process
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I love to listen to the Blues anytime, not just when working. My wife and I did a Blues Road Trip down to Memphis and Mississippi a few years back and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. That was truly inspirational.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I am totally okay with it and wouldn’t change a thing. We had a two year lock-down with Covid and my life didn’t change at all. Hardly any noticeable difference. I suspect I may be an introvert.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Original art is just too expensive for a large part of the population. People have mortgages, car payments, and children to provide for so art is a luxury unaffordable for most. That’s the reality.
What do you dislike about your work?
Mostly I am happy with my progress and it’s only the odd work that I feel isn’t up to my standard. I trash it and start again. This is my eleventh year painting and I started selling work in my first year. Truly blessed.
What do you like about your work?
I love the process of painting. I have a plan and a composition in mind but sometimes that all changes mid painting. Some of my best work happens when there is no plan.
Should art be funded?
Great Idea. Some of the best works in history were funded works. A good example of this would be Michelangelo’s paintings and sculpture.
What role does arts funding have?
Funding supports artists and larger artworks suitable for public spaces. These works would never happen if artists were not funded.
What is your dream project?
That’s a tough one. I think I will recognize it when it comes along. I had a thought recently that I would like to illustrate a children’s book with surreal landscapes.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Yes in my dreams, Lawren Harris, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh
Favourite or most inspirational place ?
Well my favourite place would be my backyard studio. I have a huge yard with mature trees and there is no place like home. For international inspiration I would have to say Amsterdam.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best advice as a painter would have to be about pricing my work. It doesn’t matter what price you put on your artwork the public determines it’s value. If your work is priced too high it will go unsold. If it’s priced too low you won’t be able to keep any work around. If the price comes in just under the perceived valve it will sell, and you will enjoy steady sales.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Well I will be 72 shortly and my goal is to live another 10 years hopefully and reach my full potential as an artist.